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Jacksonville father blinded by fireworks

by: Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax Updated:

It’s taken James Crook a couple of days to perfect doing what used to be a simple task: Walking to the fridge and pouring himself a glass of iced tea.

Then he counts his steps back to his favorite chair in the living room.

But Crook said the hardest part of his sudden loss of vision has been not being able to see his children.

Crook said that on July 4 he had just lit a firework with a grill lighter, but he wasn’t sure the fuse had actually lit.

He bent down to relight it.


RELATED: Two Flagler County boys permanently disfigured by fireworks


That’s when it exploded in his face.

“Then I remember having a towel around my face and me telling our friends that I couldn’t see,” said Crook.

“He opened his eyes and they were just black,” said his fiancée, Jenn Walker.

Crooks said the doctor told him that with a cornea transplant, he may regain partial vision in his left eye.

“My right eye is extensively worse; majorly worse. They’re talking probably a prosthetic cornea, if that even works,” said Crook.

Crook has a message for anyone who wants to set off fireworks.

“Wear safety glasses. Had I had safety glasses on, I probably wouldn’t be in this position right now,” said Crook.

“You don’t ever think it’s going to happen to you. I mean, he’s lit off fireworks before, since probably he was in his teens,” said Walker.

By the time Crook hopes he’ll get partial vision back, his infant son will be walking.

“It’s going to be past his first birthday. These are all things that he can possibly miss and not really get to enjoy,” said Walker.

In the meantime, all Crook can do is follow the doctor’s orders and wait.

Action News Jax reported earlier this month it’s illegal to set off fireworks recreationally in Florida, but it’s largely unenforced, and those same fireworks are legal to buy and sell.

Crook does not have health insurance. He and Walker said anyone who would like to contribute to his medical expenses can do so on his GoFundMe page.